The Myth of Separation of Church and State
The idea that most of the Founding Fathers of the United States were atheists or deists who advocated the separation of church and state is a myth. Most of the Founding Fathers saw the Bible and the Christian religion as the very foundation of the newly formed Republic. Consider the origin of the phrase “separation of church and state.” This phrase is used as a shield declaring “freedom from religion.” It is falsely claimed as part of the Constitution listed in the Bill of Rights. However, this is not the case. First, remember what system the Founding Fathers had under England. The establishment of a state religion had caused tremendous upheaval and even wars as the state religion went back and forth between the Church of England and Catholicism. Many fled from England to obtain greater religious freedom in the colonies.
The phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the Constitution. It appears in a letter written by Thomas Jefferson, as president in 1802, to the Danbury Baptist Association in response to their concern that the government might make laws to establish a state religion or take away their right to worship as they saw fit. Jefferson’s studied response cites the first amendment and assures them that it builds “a wall of separation between Church and State.” By this he is assuring them that they will be able to worship freely, and that there will not be a national religion established. This phrase was then taken out of context many years later by the Supreme Court in Everson v. Board of Education (1947) and again as they removed prayer from school in Engle v. Vitale (1962).
If Thomas Jefferson meant the phrase to mean no mention or display of religion in government, then why did he allow church services to take place on Capitol Hill? Two days after writing this letter, he started attending church services in the House of Representatives. These services, which continued until the end of the Civil War, were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. An honest look at the evidence leads to the realization that the Christian religion played a vital role in every facet of government from the founding of our Republic clear through today.